Rare M5.9 earthquake hits near Melbourne, Australia


A strong and shallow earthquake registered by Geoscience Australia as M5.9 hit near Melbourne, Australia at 23:15 UTC on September 21, 2021 (09:15 LT, September 22) at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). The USGS is reporting M5.9 at a depth of 10 km, EMSC M5.9 at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles).

The epicenter was located 39 km (23 miles) S of Mount Buller (population 2 568), 80 km (50 miles) N of Traralgon (population 24 605), and 128 km (80 miles) ENE of Melbourne (population 4 246 375), Victoria, Australia.

21 000 people are estimated to have felt strong shaking, 939 000 moderate and 7 012 000 moderate.

The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities. There is a low likelihood of casualties.

A Yellow alert was issued for economic losses. Some damage is possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Australia. Past events with this alert level have required a local or regional level response.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are informal (metal, timber, GI etc.) and unreinforced brick masonry construction.

The shaking caused by the mainshock lasted between 20 and 60 seconds, depending on the distance to the epicenter.

While no injuries have been reported, there are reports of significant damage in some parts of Victoria and building damage in Melbourne.

Rescue services said they received calls for help as far away as 700 km (434 miles) from the epicenter.

Earthquakes of this strength are rare in this region. 

An earthquake of this magnitude occurs every 10 to 20 years in SE Australia, with the last in Thorpdale in 2021, said University of Melbourne geologist Mike Sandiford. "We had very large magnitude six in the late 1800s, although the precise magnitudes are not well known," he told AFP.

Geoscience Australia registered 6 aftershocks to 05:15 UTC on September 22, including M3.5 at 23:24 UTC, M4.1 at 23:38, and M3.1 at 23:54 UTC.

Image credit: Geoscience Australia

The quake hit just a day after many residents of Melbourne took to the streets to protest months-long lockdowns — an event described as the start of the 'Australian revolution.'

YouTube video

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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  1. “The quake occurred after street protests and it was called as the start of Australian revolution” how curious.
    Earth definitely is changing at all levels including the beings within. There is a volcanic chain, ancient one that also runs this side of Australia so we might be seeing the AWAKENING…. again.

  2. I have been a watcher of quake activity for many years. Some of my perspectives may seem a little unorthodox to some, but I observed what you may call definitive earthquake clouds in this region prior to the quake/s. I live not far from the earthquake in Melbourne’s outer east and felt every bit of this quake. The movement was the most pronounced I have felt from any quake we have had here. Re: the quake cloud observation, I told one of my family members of my observation of such to test if I was correct in my observation. I felt it was going to be a substantial one if it did occur. Luckily the large quake hit in a fairly unpopulated area, even though any damaged caused was not generally on a nasty level and that no-one was badly injured. One person, that I know of was injured slightly. The most damage was caused to many people’s nerves and many animals and birds panicked. The after tremors are still happening and will do so for some time.

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